Today was the race’s longest stage at 160km and it was fast, as in 3hr 36mins for the winner and my group less than 3mins behind. We also had 2 Cat 3 climbs and 1 Cat 2.
The first climb came after 10km and was a steady 4/5km pull, not overly steep. I sat close to the front and was very comfortable, well in a relative sense! The yellow jersey’s team kept a steady tempo all day as the break established itselt. Eventually we turned onto some twisty narrow roads and the rain started. Thd nervous bunch stretched into a long line and I started to move up.
I’ve narrowly avoided a few accidents this week but my luck ran out today. Two guys touched wheels and went down, it happened in front of me but in the wet brakes were useless. Down I came! Without thinking you get up jump on the bike and go. Next 5km was crazy hard. The bunch weren’t flat to the mast but riding a solid tempo. It was touch and go but we got back on. It’s such a relief to get back into the warm embrace of the bunch.
The kms continued to tick by and I made my first ever trip to team car for bottles. Did the works with them down the jersey and handed out a few. I did discover my rear derailleur was bent and I didn’t have the use of my 25, 23, 12 or 11. This was a pain!
The next climb wax steady but the action kicked off on the Cat 2 with 30km to go. The lack of gears did hold me back but I rode well and got over in one of the front bunches. The descent was nuts, absolutely nuts and without a 12 or 11 I took some serious chances as we chased the yellow jersey group. The next 20k was serious driving absolutely flat out as An Post drove after the jersey. The brake took the win and we came in less than 30sec down on the small group with the yellow jersey.
The team had a bad day was we lost Joe. He crashed for the second time today actually being hit by a car. He was already badly cut up before starting today and his body just couldn’t take any more punishment. He is a very determined rider and no doubt will be back next year.
I was happy with my ride today and to see my parents at the finish line. Annette will be at the stage end tomorrow, happy days. Right now I am lying on my bed having had my rub, I am wearing recovery boots and in the picture you can also see my snack of rice, pesto and tuna. I have honestly never eaten as much rice as I have this week. Actually I have never eaten as much as I have this week. Luckily my appetite hasn’t deserted me, some guys really are struggling to get it down.